Most schedulers, diaries, and notebooks in Korea covered with English quotations, usually about love, or inspirational messages. The imperfections of the writing tend to give these quotations a beautiful lyrical quality. I spent some time at my local Artbox store, writing down some of this "Konglish poetry," which I've included here.
What is life if we have no time to stand and stare No time to see and feel, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night
Love is here and there.
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach our eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
inventions and recipes, anger and sorrow, letters sent to not knowing... this is the real part, is yours. Write fast. ...write over them, paint over them. and let go.
Promise yourself to be strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
The stars in the sky, the fish in the sea, the animals on earth everything has many secrets.
A good day is expected to begin! Wishing you a garden full of happiness, today and Everyday!
Are you doing good lately? Open now, don't delay! This could be your lucky day, you know what I mean?
Imagination is more important than knowledge Memories with you is not lost. I do not want to forget. However days and months may flow, the time spent with you does not fade. You are still alive there. A photograph can also shut up small temperature there. It is memory accumulation equipment which the human begins to forget various things produced.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Please always know that I love you more than anything else in the world. Being with you makes me feel so happy. Ever since I met you, things are looking pretty good.
The best and most beautiful thing in the world cannot be see nor touched but are feet with the heart. Happy the man, whose wish and care a few paternal acres bound, content to breathe his native air in his own ground. Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread, whose flocks supply him with attire; whose trees in summer yield him shade in winter, fire blest, who can unconcernedly find hours, day and years slide soft away in health of body, peace of mind; quiet by day.
Happiness There is only one happiness in life, to love and to be loved. Time The busier you are, the more time you need to take time to do things right. Record We need to record words for our learning. Future Have you given any thought to your future? Let's do one thing at a time. Hero Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.
Life is a beautiful journey. It is with great pleasure that I impart my inspirational stuffs. I desire nothing else but you'll be richly blessed and powerfully inspired by the thoughts and perspectives as journeyer in life.
The quiet water of a lake Love is like the ripples on a lake ever widening
"A city is a place," anthropologist Margaret Mead once wrote, "where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again."
Seoul is by far the biggest city I've ever visited, let alone lived in, and there's always somewhere to go and something to do. It's amazing to live in a place where everything is at your doorstep: restaurants, shows, shops. While I'm here, I'm trying to experience as much of it as I can. It's not always easy. Even though posters cover some subway platform walls, bus stop shelters, and every flat surface in popular university areas, I usually don't hear of concerts or shows I'm interested in until it's too late. Or in the case of Celine Dion, I couldn't find anyone who would be brave enough to join me.
This time, though, I heard about Cirque du Soleil coming to town well in advance and managed to collect a few friends who could join me.
Last night, we went to see Cirque du Soleil's Alegria at Olympic Stadium in Jamsil, where the parking lot had been transformed with a big top tent. We got lucky and managed to score 4 seats in the 4th row, great seats in what was already a very small, intimate venue. The show opened with a few words in Korean (the audience was impressed) and then continued with one amazing act after another: trapeze, contortion, fire acts---this show had it all. And it was all done in ridiculously extravagent costumes. It was awesome.
I continue to read event listings in English expat magazines and check out the posters when I walk by. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with everything that's going on. That's the thing about this city: it's got everything you could want, you just need to know where---and when---to find it.
Sunburned after my day on the beach in Cherating, I decided a retreat to the forest was in order. Taman Negara, a national park, is one of the oldest rainforests in the world and one of Malaysia's biggest attractions. So, after a taxi ride from Cherating to Kuantan, a bus ride to from Kuantan to Temerloh, a bus ride from Temerloh to Jerantut, a speedy cab ride from town to the dock, an angry cab ride back to town because there was no accommodation available near the dock, a few phone calls to book a tour, and an overnight at a hotel in Jerantut, I was finally en route.
I booked a tour through the hotel I stayed at in Jerantut, and the man who booked the tour for me, Addy, also turned out to be my guide. He and his friend drove me to the park in their card, speeding the whole way. Despite the sharp corners, wild passes, near-miss with a bus, and interesting maneuver where the driver lit a cigarette as he steered with his knees, we made it to the boat in one piece. We met up with the others members of our group: a French family with two children, aged 5 and 8, and an older German man who was also travelling alone.
The tour started with a boat ride down the river, and the view was fantastic. I, unfortunately, didn't learn my lesson in Cherating and added some more colour to my legs. The forest, at the start of our hike, was similar to those in Canada, with ferns, big trunks, and open skies. Four kilometres in, we stopped at a small cave for a meal break. My backpack, although emptied (I left most of my clothes in storage at the hotel), was heavy due to the three litres of water I was carrying, and my shoulders craved a rest. After the break, we continued on our way to the big cave, where we would spend the night.
The landscaped quickly changed; it began to look more like a rainforest. The undergrowth became thicker, the canopy above closed up, and the sun disappeared. I saw "Tarzan vines" that, for me, identify a true rainforest. The hike was difficult. There were lots of downed trees on the path that we had to pass over and under, and our footwork was further complicated by the mud.
The day was supposed to be long but easy, but having two young children in our group made the day even longer, and I certainly didn't find it easy. "This area has many tigers," Addy said when the sun started going down. "We must arrive before dark or..." He didn't finish his sentence. He didn't need to.
We got out our flashlights and soon they became a necessity. It wasn't until 7.30 that we finally arrived the big cave—and, boy, was it big! There were several groups already there, but there was plenty of room for all of us. Addy made dinner for us while we relaxed on the mats and talked. After dinner, we went outside to a nearby stream to brush our teeth and "shower"—the whole time I was checking for animals with my flashlight. Soon, all the flashlights were turned off and we all settled in for a night of camping in a cave.
I woke up to sunlight streaming through the cave opening. It was one of those scenes that make you think, Wow. This is why I travel. With the sunlight, I got a good look at the cave. It was one big "room" that was about 40 metres tall and could handle about 300 people at a time. There were two openings: the bigger, higher one (near where we slept), which was almost at the ceiling, and a smaller one to the left that served as the main "door." A big rock sat in the middle and divided the room; people used to rock for privacy when it came to changing clothes and using the "toilet" facilities. Someone, somehow, managed to put a Malay flag high up on the cave wall. It smelled of dampness, fire ashes, and moss inside the cave. I loved every minute of it.
During breakfast—bread with Malay jam: coconut with egg—Addy told me he couldn't sleep because he thought he heard animals. "I thought I heard animals during the night, too," I said. "It sounded like bats to me."
"Not bats," Addy said. "I think tigers."
After talking with the other guides, Addy seemed convinced tigers were out last night. I doubted it, but the idea certainly added some excitement to our upcoming hike through the woods. Since it rained during the night, mud would be more of a problem, plus leeches would be out, and maybe tigers, too.
The day was supposed to be shorter but more difficult than the day before, and the difficulty part was certainly true. The hike was a challenge. The mud was a mess, twigs scratching my legs burned my rosy legs, and there was always something to crawl over or squeeze under. We crossed rivers on fallen logs, and trailblazed our way through thick underbrush. Biting pain on my ankles or spots of blood on my shorts alerted me to that fact that leeches had decided to join me on the hike. It was so much fun. But, with two small children, the day was not short. The little girl, aged 5, had a lot of problems, so her dad carried her as much as he could. We took a lot longer—maybe twice as long—as we could have without the kids. I didn't mind, though; I liked being in the woods.
My first few days in KL were spent mostly on my feet. I love walking around cities; I feel more connected to the place, as if by walking I become part of the landscape instead of simply looking at it. As Paul Scott Mowrer wrote in his autobiography, The House of Europe, "There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast." I read that the city wasn't built with walkers in mind, but I had no problem marching my way through the city. Armed with only a basic map, care of my Lonely Planet, I made a number of wrong turns and a few mad dashes across roads that were busier than I would have liked, but I found my daily strolls to be quite enjoyable. The first thing I wanted to do was ride the monorail. Very Gotham City, I wrote in my notebook. Watching as the buildings and streets passed by below me, I rode the rail towards the Butterfly Park. After the monorail ride, walking for a while, getting lost, and eventually taking a taxi, I finally made it there.
At first the park seemed empty, but finally I started spotting them. I usually saw their shadows first, then used those to find the butterflies they belonged to. There were butterflies so big they looked like paper birds, and others that were so colourful they glowed.
The park had a small museum that I wandered though. The shadow boxes of spiders caught my attention, and I took some time to study the locations of the various spiders throughout Malaysia. I noted that, of the 19 shown, 11 (including three tarantulas and one "giant-sized" bird spider) are found in the Cameron Highlands. Note: Cameron Highlands can be missed if I'm running out of time! I wrote. To get my mind off the spiders, I checked out a shadow box labelled: World's Most Beautiful Butterflies. Most of the butterflies were a metallic, luminescent blue and were absolutely stunning---definitely deserving to be on the list.
The perk of travelling alone is being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Could I go to a butterfly park and a bird park on the same day? Of course I could. And I did.
The next day, I woke up early to get to the Petronas Towers. There's only a limited number of tickets every day to the Skybridge on the 41st floor---the highest level visitors can go---so arriving early was a must. There was already a line when I arrived and the wait was long. When I finally made it to the booth, the tickets were being sold for the 11.45 elevator ride---2 hrs later. Though, when I stated I only needed one ticket, they bumped me to the last ticket for the 10.15. Another score for the solo traveller.
The towers were more beautiful than I had noticed before. Each floor is wrapped with silver beams---practical in that they shade the windows from direct sunlight, and beautiful in that they look like ribbons. The shape of the towers themselves are also very symbolic. They were originally designed to be 8-point stars, called Rub el Hizb, which look like two overlapping squares. This shape is a very important symbol in Islamic culture, prevalent in Malaysia. Extra circular sections were added in between points to add floorspace, but the symbolism is still clear. At 170 metres, the Skybridge is half the height of the CN Tower's glass floor and observation level, but the view was impressive anyways. I love seeing cities from above, where you can see everything happening all at once.
Up, down, and out of the towers, I headed to the bus station to find a bus south to Singapore.
Sam: "This is it." Frodo: "This is what?"
Sam: "If take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been."
Frodo: "Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: 'It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.'"
~ JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring